A few months ago, out of the blue, Wally Ben said, “Mom, what’s inner peace?”

“Did you hear about that in Sunday School?” I answered.

“No, Mom. Kung Fu Panda!”

I don’t know exactly how to describe inner peace, maybe because I don’t often feel it myself. I am constantly thinking hard about something, working out the world’s and the Ott’s problems. Or I am agonizing over decisions—from the difficult to the unimportant. The idea of inner peace even, throws my mind into a whirlwind of how I can possibly describe it.

To demonstrate my constant inner turmoil, I’ll say that I am the worst decision maker. I am afraid I am passing this down to my kids as a learned behavior also. The other day I took Wally Ben to Kohls to pick out slippers. He had been rewarded with good behavior points and had earned “Wear your slippers to school” from his teacher. “Good work, Wally!” I thought, at the same time as, “I guess we are going to have to go buy some slippers!” On our shopping adventure, he had it narrowed to two: Chewbacka Wookie Feet, and Darth Vader. He chose Darth Vader. “Okay!” I said. And added, “So you are sure you don’t want the Chewbacka?” Certain only a moment before, he looked at me with concern. I saw the thinking behind his eyes, the doubt, the new feeling that, I don’t know, maybe I do want those. Now that you mention it… He switched to Chewbacka. I then noticed some Spiderman ones and tossed that idea out as well. Again, the uncertainty, and the panic started creeping into his voice. “I don’t know what I want? How will I know?” My poor leading had brought him to this point. I realized what I was doing to him, planting this concern for future regret in his confident decisions. I realized it wasn’t helping, this passing on of my crazy. So I said, “Why don’t we walk around the store for a little holding all three, and maybe you will find clarity.” I promised myself not to say anything to him again about his choice. After a few aisles, miracle of all miracles, it worked. “I know what I want,” he said. “Darth Vader.” (And of course, I realized, with the first decision back in place where it should be, the futility of my lifetime of wrestling with all decisions.)

So you can see that I cannot often answer the question, “What is inner peace?”

The question makes me think of a home video we have from a childhood holiday. Some jazzy Christmas music is playing in the background. My button of a sister, who is around 5 at the time, and her best buddy cousin Nick are looking out a sliding glass door at huge hunks of falling snow. You see the wonder on their faces as they look out the window, and then my sister turns and says into the camera in her little voice, “I feel a church spirit!”

The other day I had a similar moment. The kids, who are at great ages for this kind of thing, had hugged me as if I were promising them Disney World when I told them we were going to decorate the Christmas tree. They spent the afternoon admiring the ornaments as they came out of the box. (They were in a get along mood, which makes or breaks this kind of task.) Vivvi had placed them all in the 2 foot area she could reach, and I enjoyed laughing at Husband Wally the perfectionist, who had about lost his mind as it unfolded.

It had snowed a few days prior, and Wally Ben could not wait to play in it for the first time. When we were done with the tree, the kids geared up like Ralphie’s brother and Wally took them outside. (I stayed inside, thank you very much. I have an older brother, so I had too many experiences in my teen years of being tackled to the ground and having my face pushed in the snow to ever enjoy it again.) So I started up the hot water for their rosy cheeked hot chocolates and stood at the window watching. I had a messy kitchen, a dusty house, laundry to fold, bills to pay. But for that moment, I could not tear myself away from the sight of my kids and their dad chasing them around. Husband Wally was somehow making this too-frozen-to-stick powder of snow into the most exciting and funny game they’ve ever played.

As I watched, I thought something I have thought a few other times in my life. (There I go, thinking again.) I thought that, when I die, if I am given a chance to come back to re-experience just 5 minutes of my life, and I get to choose which 5 minutes, I just might choose this moment. I might choose to come, to stand in my warm house, and to watch my little family be so happy. I might choose their rosy cheeks, their shrieks, their laughter. I might choose this—where I am so, this day, being given my daily bread.

The next time Wally Ben asks me what inner peace is, I might just read him this post.

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